The Best Solution to the Problem of War

Rev. Canon Dr. Scot McKnight
Professor of New Testament
Northern Seminary

My friend and former colleague Scot McKnight has written a book titled The Audacity of Peace (Minneapolis, Fortress Press, 2022), in which he presents his views on war and peace.

Scot McKnight is Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary. Scot is a prolific writer. At the present, Scot is writing a commentary on every book of the New Testament. These commentaries are being published in the New Testament Everyday Bible Study Series.

The press release for The Audacity of Peace describes Scot’s views on war and peace as follows,

In The Audacity of Peace, Scot McKnight sketches a peace ethic, or a peace witness, that embraces the embodied self-denial of Jesus to the point of the cross, which through the resurrection is vindicated by God. As such, a peace ethic volitionally and communally participates in the cruciform pattern of the life of Jesus. Through the power of God’s grace and the indwelling Spirit of God, the participant in the way of Jesus is transformed into a Christoform life. A peace ethic is a lived theology whose discerning witness transcends the specific principles and ideas of that theology.

Below is an excerpt from The Audacity of Peace in which Scot mentions a book, which in his view “has become the best solution to the problem of war in the Bible I have yet read.” Scot writes,

AS I WAS GROWING into a Christoform peace ethic and hermeneutic, I was challenged by the Old Testament stories of war. I didn’t have those words for them in my student days but William Webb and Gordon Oeste’s terms do it for me now. Those wars were Bloody, Brutal, and Barbaric. Justification of such brutalities had become impossible for me. I wanted an explanation. As a young adult growing up in the Viet Nam era in a church thoroughly unpolitical and yet committed to patriotic ideals like military service, I had no equipment to use for the barbarities when Bonhoeffer’s Christoform hermeneutic began to penetrate the marrow of my bones. I pondered in unconscious and unexplored momentary glimpses what to do with those war texts. The old explanation that they were sinners, pagans, and destined for God’s judgment lost its credibility. The first book I read on this topic that began to change my mind was by Peter Craigie, The Problem of War in the Old Testament.

It seemed to settle my conscience but not for long, so over the next forty years I have read a number of books and essays on the topic, the two most recent of which are Greg Boyd’s The Crucifixion of the Warrior God and Webb and Oeste’s Bloody, Brutal, and Barbaric?, both of which provide light by drawing attention to the hermeneutics of a Christian approach to war in the Bible. In the process of writing an early draft of this book my retired colleague at Northern Seminary, Claude Mariottini, gave me a manuscript of his on this topic and it has become the best solution to the problem of war in the Bible I have yet read [emphasis added].

The statement in bold is Scot’s reference to my book Divine Violence and the Character of God. Scot read the draft of my manuscript and wrote the preface for the book.

In his preface for the book, Scot wrote,

No book has ever completely resolved the shocks I get when reading some of the violence texts, but each of these and others have helped me. Including the book in your hands by my friend and colleague, Claude Mariottini. All I want is for my co-strugglers-with-these-texts to face the texts squarely, admit the realities of the violence, and think about it in a Christian and moral manner.

The violence of the Old Testament is in front of us but so is the cross, a cross on which God absorbed and ended the violence so that we might be transformed from nationalisms and violence into peacemakers in the mode of Jesus. Peter Craigie said it well: “Over and over again, Christians have forgotten that God the Warrior became the Crucified God.” This book will help you remember.

When Scot says that my book, Divine Violence and the Character of God “has become the best solution to the problem of war in the Bible I have yet read,” I consider his statement to be the best endorsement for my book.

Buy Divine Violence and the Character of God at Amazon.

Buy Divine Violence and the Character of God with a 40% discount directly from the publisher.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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If you are looking for other series of studies on the Old Testament, visit the Archive section and you will find many studies that deal with a variety of topics.

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